There is a myth about fingerprints, that they are the magic elixir for obtaining criminal records. In fact, certain positions particularly those that involve vulnerable populations, such as children, the disabled, and the elderly, sometimes require by statute, fingerprints for background checks on individuals who come into contact with members of these groups.
Sadly, there is a lack of knowledge that no panacea exists when it comes to background checks, and most people, including politicians who make our laws, also are misinformed about the efficacy of fingerprints. The fingerprint database only contains about fifty percent of all the crimes in the USA. Further, there is no criminal database that exists anywhere that covers the entire country.
In addition to missing about half of all crimes in the USA, some of the other drawbacks to fingerprints include:
- Can only be used for certain limited types of background checks
- Turnaround time tends to be slow
- Clearance cards are usually issued for multiple years, and crimes can occur in between
- Arrest records are included, even though the individual may have never been charged with a crime. Arrest records alone cannot be used to deny an applicant.
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